Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Craft Beer Sales Boom in 2004

By William Brand
Thursday, February 16th, 2006 at 2:28 pm in Uncategorized.

Sale of craft beer – and by that, I mean, full-flavored beer, the opposite of light American lager – rose 9 percent in 2005, continuing an upward trend in popularity. Here’s the info from the Boulder, CO-based Brewers Association:

America’s craft brewers sold 9 percent more barrels of beer in 2005 versus 2004 making craft beer the fastest growing segment of the U.S. beverage alcohol industry for the second consecutive year, the Brewers Association, trade association for U.S. craft brewers.

“Craft beer volume growth far exceeded that of large brewers, wine and spirits in 2005,” said Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association. “And even though imported beer grew nicely in 2005, craft beer grew at a faster rate.”

The Brewers Association estimates 2005 sales by craft brewers at 7,112,886 31-gallon barrels up from an adjusted total of 6,526,809 barrels in 2004, an increase of 586,077 barrels or 8.1 million cases.

Compared to craft beer volume growth of 9 percent, spirits volume increased at 3.3 percent in 2005 and wine volume was up 2.9 percent. The import segment of the beer industry rose 7.2 percent in 2005 while non-craft domestic beer volume declined slightly for the year. This establishes craft beer as the fastest growing segment of the U.S. beverage alcohol business for the second year in a row.

The craft beer segment includes more than 1,300 small, traditional and independent breweries which produce primarily all-malt beers. It includes both brewpubs which sell beer primarily at their own pub or restaurant and packaging breweries that distribute beer in kegs, cans and bottles to a wide range of retail outlets. The Brewers Association has tabulated industry growth data for these breweries annually since 1985.

Back live now: Of course when you consider market share and actual number of bottles or barrels sold you get a different picture. While craft beer sales were up 9 percent, that brings the craft beer segment to 3,5 percent of the total beer market, Garza told me a minute ago.

Here’s his very rough breakdown: Craft Beer: 3.5 percent, Imports: 12 percent, Anheuser Busch: 48.6 percent, Miller: 18.4 percent, Coors: 10.6 percent, Pabst Blue Ribbon: 3.2 percent; Other breweries, 3.7 percent.

So, looking at it that way, all the great craft beer in America, lumped together, accounted for just 0.3 of one percent more beer than Pabst. Food for thought.

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